By on February 8, 2013

This is making the rounds of the driver-training people on Facebook right now. It’s interesting to watch for a few reasons. Critique it yourself then click the jump.

There are plenty of people dogpiling the poor (for certain values of the word “poor” — that’s a $200K car) driver on YouTube and elsewhere already, so I won’t bother to go over the errors in his, ah, technique. It’s enough to say that he has every bad habit known to man and some I had yet to see in real life, like the decision to hold onto the A-pillar when he gets scared.

More than any of that, I’m concerned about how this person got to the point in his life where he felt it was a good idea to hold the A-pillar and let Jesus take the wheel at high speeds in an expensive and somewhat tricky performance car on a Formula One-certified racetrack. You could argue that the entire trackday culture and driver-training system has failed him. It’s put him in a low-end helmet and completely unnecessary drivers’ suit instead of a high-quality helmet. It’s put cameras on his car instead of an instructor in his passenger seat. It’s encouraged him to drive a 600-horsepower rear-engined car to learn his craft instead of making him start in a Miata or Skip Barber instructional open-wheeler. It’s made him so paranoid and anxious about letting faster drivers by (because those drivers are bullying loudmouths in the meetings) that he nearly crashes his car twice trying to make that happen. It hasn’t equipped him with a single one of the tools he needs to enjoy himself or make any progress. He’s wasting his time and the time of others around him while putting everyone involved at serious risk of injury or death.

Fifty years ago, a guy like this would wind up having his lifeless corpse unceremoniously dragged out of a Jag E-Type somewhere. The fact that he’s still alive to be laughed at by Lemons racers everywhere is entirely due to the massive and nontrivial safety improvements made everywhere from the track, which has no deadly barriers close to the corner exits, to the Porsche GT2 itself, which has been tirelessly (and I mean that literally — the 235-width rubber on front is a joke) optimized to preserve incompetent drivers. It will even turn stability control back on if your foot is on the brake. That’s the only reason our friend in the GT2 will see his family again. But to make sure he sees his family at the end of his next trackday, he should consider seeing a qualified instructor first.

Mr. GT2 A-Pillar, I’m not scared. Contact me through this website. We’ll fix your problems and make your trackday experience the one you really wanted when you bought that G-Force drag-race suit.

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62 Comments on “Hold On To My A-Pillar, I’m Gonna Drive This Here Porsh...”


  • avatar
    Georgewilliamherbert

    Ugh. Forget the racing faux pas, even basic road based safe fast driving skills seem lacking… Little apex awareness, not connecting corners, steering wheel discipline, etc. Would seem to risk being excessively dangerous trying 8/10 on a twisty country road…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    1) $200K car – check, $400 G-Force drag racing suit – check, $100 open faced helmet that if you smash your jaw on you’ll be sucking apple sauce through a straw for the rest of your life – check

    2) Shuffle steering where shuffle steering is not ideal

    3) Jack said it best, “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL! Take it from my hands. Cause I can’t do this on my own. I’m letting go, so give me one more chance, to save me from this road I’m on. Jesus take the wheel…”

    4) Driving open window but no safety net? Must not care about having his left arm crushed worst case scenario

    5) Although definitely good at pulling it back in – its because he has so much practice. To riff on another infamous driving school video. “You’re not smooth. You’re not smooth. You’re not smooth. You’re not smooth. You have to be smooth. You’re not smooth. I’m getting out.”

    6) If you’re not comfortable in beyond light passing traffic that is widely gaped out on a track that wide – you don’t belong on the track. You should be checking for passing traffic BEFORE you’re in the apex of a turn, not freaking out when they come up on you as you go through slower. They aren’t supposed to pass in the turn anyway – and they know it.

    7) My 13 year old daughter can pick a better line on Forza 4 or a Go-Kart track.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      For what it’s worth, most HPDE groups require you run with the front windows down. I assume the idea is to make it easier for paramedics to extract you if you manage to pull off something extraordinarily stupid.

      None that I am aware of require nets.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Not sure what the reasoning is for having the windows down, but I doubt it has anything to do with extrication. Most of my brethren carry at least one, if not two tools in their pockets that can make quick work of a window, never mind all the other stuff that is on a truck. Breaking the windows is the easy part.

      • 0 avatar
        Byron Hurd

        Could also be to make it easier for drivers to extract themselves in the event of a fire.

        I’ve never asked. Next time, I will.

      • 0 avatar
        vaujot

        For what it’s worth, in Germany it is the opposite: At all track days/HPDE events I have attended, participants are asked to close their windows and sunroofs. Reason given was to keep limbs inside the car during rollovers.
        I noticed that the guy in the video points faster cars to pass him. Maybe the window is open for that? In Germany, we do this with the turn signals. Turn signal to the right means we’ll keep to the right and can be passed on the left.

    • 0 avatar
      powermatic

      He/she is wearing a full-face helmet, not open face-just has the visor up. And I’m curious how you (and Jack) can tell what brand/model it is from this view.

  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    I would guess his A-pillar grabbing habit stems from driving tractors or RTVs (or some other off road vehicle) down steep hills while not wearing a seat belt. Or riding around in friends cars without a seat belt. Some activity that he’s not wearing a restraint that’s training him to brace himself during an oh sh!t moment. The video isn’t loading for me so I’m guessing based on how Jack’s described the action.

  • avatar

    Yes, he is driving almost, not quite, as bad as I’d be if I were in that car on that track.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Well…he did better than I would dare to! Other than that, many mistakes, which have already been called out.

    I can’t imagine myself in that car with only one good eye…

    Why would anyone WANT to take their hands off the wheel?

  • avatar

    He’s almost bad enough to be an auto journalist

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Umm, sir, that “Jesus take the wheel” song was not intended to be a proper driving advice. It’s a miracle that the car right itself when he let go fo the wheel. I guess his guardian angel’s working overtime.

    • 0 avatar
      toplessFC3Sman

      The front wheels’ caster will cause the steering wheel to automatically turn in the direction that the car is heading in, aligning the front wheels with the direction of travel (even if the direction of travel & the direction the car is pointed in are not the same). Its the same force & reaction that causes steering wheels to self-center in a regular (non-drifting) corner, and provides one aspect of road “feel”.

      Because of this, in drifting videos, its pretty common to see drivers let the steering wheel go (usually sliding through their hands, not completely releasing it) when they need to countersteer more than possible without going hand-over-hand or shuffling. In this case, its usually quicker than turning the wheel hand-over-hand and is very helpful to catch the drift.

      All that being said, I don’t think that was this guy’s intention, and if he had been driving properly he shouldn’t have needed to release the wheel at all. However, given that his driving up to that instant got him a lot of oversteer that needed to be quickly corrected, letting go of the wheel was probably the best thing he could have done. I couldn’t tell if he lifted, but have a feeling that if he did, he wouldn’t have been able to catch that.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    That was painful to watch.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Definitely looks like a “more money than brains” situation, starting with the elbow resting on the windowsill while going along like a Sunday driver on the parkway. (Hey, I’ve done that myself . . . on a Sunday, on the parkway, just enjoying the view and the fresh air.

    I agree with the others, this guy shouldn’t be driving this car anywhere; he has no idea what to do with it and sooner or later will hurt himself and possibly some others.

    He should be driving a Land Rover Discovery, first generation.

  • avatar

    Far enough off point to be considered off-topic, I’m curious what Jack – and any other seasoned, competitive drivers – think about sanctioning bodies prohibiting rookies from competing in upper tier platforms.

    As a lurker here (can’t keep up with post volume), I understand my comment might not warrant an intelligent discussion (or even a response), but the case has long since been made for auto-journos maintaining a semblance of driving ability if they are to adequately inform the audience. I’m curious about balancing the financial needs of “the sport” with safety matters such as this one.

    For example: I know of a sanctioning body which prohibits rookies from competing in turbocharged, AWD vehicles. “Economic recovery” being what it is, organizers are under pressure to get as many entries as possible. Could such technical prohibitions drive people away? Any data to support a claim either way?

    The case might be made that the financial risks associated with spoiled children crashing automobiles seem to outweigh the potential loss of entry and membership fees, but what might be some smart ways for cash-strapped organizers to straddle that fence? Is it as simple as forcing newcomers through the ranks a la NASA HPDE?

    Thought I’d ask. Any quasi-anonymous mouth-breather can point a finger and jump on a bandwagon, but that doesn’t actually fix the problem.

    Thanks for the space.

  • avatar

    You think this is bad? I did not even see the moment everyone is talking about when I watched the video.

    BTW, Jack mentioned Miata as a decent car to learn, but there’s a problem: it’s TOO SMALL. Is there a decent, not unduly overpowered car out there, that’s sized for normal people? People who are shorter than 6 feet 3 inches need not reply, sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      raded

      At 0:45 when he grabs the pillar with his left hand. Other than that, there’s the whole sawing at the wheel, hanging his arm out the window, over-correcting, then over-correcting, then over-correcting…

      I’ve heard the Honda S2000 is a little bit better for taller folks, but I’ve never tried either. S2000 is also significantly more rare than a Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        B.C.

        S2000 … for tall people, no. I’d look into an NC Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        S2000? If you are < 6' 2", its good, above its too tight.

      • 0 avatar
        Eric M

        As a daily driver, and 6’2″ the S2000 fits me like a glove. But on the track with a helmet and a proper rollbar, anyone much over 6′-flat is going to be tight between the helmet and the cage without heavily modifying the seat rails.

        I’d probably recommend a hardtop to start with they tend to have much better headroom. RWD points to an older BMW (non-M E36 maybe), or something like a Civic-Si/Mazda 3/Focus/GTI for FWD.

        Most tracks are not fans of convertibles without proper rollbars/cages.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m ok with FWD. I looked at Mini and the salesman was a local autocrosser. He was much shorter than me, but I fit in thanks to the low butt position.

    • 0 avatar

      Porsche 944S – low cost fun.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Or 924S – even cheaper, similar power, and lighter. Also much more likely to be found sans sunroof, which robs headroom. I bought one BECAUSE I can fit in it with a helmet on. I’m a VERY long torso’d 6’2″.

        These cars are fairly expensive to maintain though. Ignore the timing belt at your extreme financial peril.

    • 0 avatar

      As a 6’3″ ~35″ inseam owner of an S2000, and formerly of an 1999 Miata, I can say that the S2000 is roomier and about the lower limit for me as far as size goes. Legroom is much better between actual length and pedal positioning, headroom is better due to the top and lower seat bottom, but width is tighter due to the more form fitting seats, mainly. I’d guess that anyone over a 36″ inseam would be a little uncomfortable, and headroom could be an issue.

      Also, I was told by the guy who bought my Miata that Mustangs and F-Body Camaros are good to learn on as well despite their keyboard-bench-jockey-racer derided faults. He’s a Camaro/Mustang Challenge racer, and serial Miata owner, so he has a reasonable amount of experience with both.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually I was thinking about Mustang after Jack’s 3-parter on FR-S. The FR-S itself offers 37 inch headroom, which is 2 inches too small even before the helmet.

        The note on legroom is well taken. Although in most cars headroom problems make them outright impossible to drive, I have never been to a car where I could, for instance, hell-toe. Me legs just do not bend that way. Legroom would be a nice bonus, although not critical.

      • 0 avatar
        Georgewilliamherbert

        Pete -

        I’m 6’4.5″ / 235 and my daily driver is a RX-8.

        It’s just big enough with normal interior. For a helmet I’d need a lowered racing seat mount.

        It’s just long enough in legroom to left foot brake, but could use another 1-2 inches.

        I used to drive a 98 Mustang, and it was also just big enough (more headroom, no more legroom). Tested a 2011 Mustang and found it marginally bigger. Also somewhat but not entirely better on the snap-oversteer problem, which always made me leery of tracking it or taking mine above 9/10 on the road.

        I can barely fit in the C model Miata’s drivers’ seat, can’t left foot brake one, and my sight line is straight out through the windshield frame. Never driven an S2000 but barely fit in its passenger seat (knees contacting dashboard, same in Miata passenger seat).

        BMW Z4 is slightly bigger for driver side but not big enough to left foot brake. Given that it’s several hundred pounds heavier than the RX-8 and has insufficient rollover protection for someone my height I saw no point.

        Yet to try stuffing myself into a BR-Z.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      An 86? It’s not that big, but you can rip out the rear seats.

      Feels almost like a Miata, too, which is a good thing.

      MINIs are great. Buy one secondhand. Fix the stupid rear camber. Thrash it. Sell it before the gearbox breaks or the fuel pump conks out.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      FYI – you are not normal sized, you are too tall… Get used to not fitting in some cars. They make lots of huge vehicles that feel immense to short people, try one of those. Challengers are immense.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t fit properly in my sister’s FR-S (head right at the roof) and I’m 5’10 1/2″ (long torso).

  • avatar

    I am just aghast at this. I think the larger glaring issues have been called out. But there are a few pet peeves where I would be using the rocket propelled mallet against the dollar ninety nine wall mart brain bucket. Thumbs do not belong wrapped around the wheel and the elbow does not belong on the door. Quick ways when the front end decides to do something it wants to do of it’s own accord, and for someone receive a very nasty injury.

    I knows these well since I live off road in a manual steering car, and my drive way has large enough rocks that it can rip the wheel out of your hands quicker than you can get the G out in GT2. I have not have my thumb dislocated, but I have had a friend of mine do just that going down my drive way at a snails pace in a Loyale wagon.

    It should be mandatory that if anyone that is going to buy one of these potent autos that they should have some track time with a real instructor. From basic car control to advanced techniques. There are some serious machines out there now days, that yes have many electronic nannies but they are still very potent machines in there own right especially if they have buttons that will remove the driver aids from the mix.

    Of course a real cure would be the Finnish license system, but the likely hood of that coming to the US is .00001 to goose egg. Of course this is not the first time I have seen some seriously bad driving, I have seen worse when folks from LA come up here to visit the ski slopes, or better yet when they try to take there soft roaders on the trails between the towns and end up shiny side down in a ditch or canal.

    I am not perfect granted, but I do have some advanced tutoring from when I was younger that has stuck like glue and has kept me from landing shiny side down on the rocks. I would love to get some more, but I do not think I would be comfortable on a track any where near someone driving that potent of a car in such a manner. Besides, I find that small displacement skinny tired cars can be just as rewarding to drive as a fat tired monster. But then I am a bit of a odd one anyways.

    • 0 avatar

      The Finns also have the best educational system in the world. They don’t score better than th e south koreans, but they score tops (tied) despite having laid back classrooms, no homework to speak of, and no big tests until you get out of school.

      By the way, the person who put the video up pulled it, probably out of embarrassment.

  • avatar

    Looks as though it might be Mr Bean! I recognise the driving style
    And he’s rich enough and daft enough to try something like this.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Haha, the funny thing is that while Mr. Bean is a dolt, Rowan Atkinson can flat out drive, according to our friends at Top Gear. He sat atop the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car leaderboard for a while. Being coached by the Stig probly helps.

      EDIT: The internet says he recently smashed up a McLaren F1. But he also apparently drives his high speed collection regularely and frequently. Accidents happen, no? At this point I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, unless someone can show me conclusive proof the guy is a big ol lunatic :D

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Good idea that he didn’t listen to Car and Driver and turn off his many traction/stability/dynamic control aids off, like any REAL racing driver that writes for their tab… er magazine.

    The car is essentially driving itself around the track, in spite of the driver’s attempts to send it elsewhere.

    The Jethro a-pillar grab reminds me of wheeling a friend’s old CJ-5. It had no working seatbelts and vinyl seats, any lateral g’s would send you flying out of the Jeep, or into your passenger if you didn’t hang on for your life.

    …but that really doesn’t answer the question as to why the hell did he post his suicidal driving on facetubes and then ask for a critique. You don’t need to be a racing driver to see that there’s something wrong happening there.

  • avatar
    TW4

    This is surely a gag of some sort. He’s a half-hour late on the brakes into turn 1, which is not a rookie thing to do. He’s too aggressive on all controls, and he doesn’t insta lift when he gets into trouble on the throttle, which is not a rookie thing to do. He pays rapt attention to his mirrors, which is not a rookie thing to do.

    He appears to be someone who is intentionally hooning around for the cameras, maybe working on his glam driving for his future career in auto journalism, but who unintentionally manages to nearly kill himself.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      He seems to be of the “fearless variety” I’ve seen them at track days before, not typical but they are there. Awesome stability controls and the consequence-light lifestyle of the economically well endowed seem to be the big factors.

  • avatar
    Burger Boy

    I’ve seen soccer moms in minivans with better form than this clown.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Hopefully the driver will be contacting Jack privately since the video has been pulled down now.

    • 0 avatar
      Ron B.

      Yes, my thoughts exactly . The last paragraph was the best part of the article . The track days here are infested with these guys. I saw ,yesterday ,a guy in a black Merc CLS driving at 6/10ths with his arm out the window holding a cigarette!!.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet he won’t. Jack’s offer is impossible to detect among the tide of Internet bullying that took down the video. If they knew each other previously, or had common acquantances, it would be different. As it is, I don’t think.

  • avatar
    fatalexception04

    Guy must be ashamed. I watched it once, but when I went back for a second view it says the video was removed by user.

  • avatar
    raph

    Damnit the video was removed!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    He did one smart thing though.. He let go of the wheel and the car corrected itself!

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Video is no longer available. apparently the dog piling was too much.

  • avatar
    JasonH

    Video still available here: http://blog.axisofoversteer.com/2013/02/some-say-porsche-drivers-wear-fire-suits.html

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Another smugly superior “article” by your tame racing driver. Also known as the Dominick Dunne of the Walter Mitty set.

  • avatar
    number9ine

    I missed the YouTube post before it was taken down. Checking out the Axis of Oversteer link–is that the same car? If so it’s not a GT2. It’s a MKI 997 chassis (smaller mirror, old style sport steering wheel). The Guards Red and the lack of a “tape stripe” on the wheel rim tell me it’s probably just a Carerra variant.

    Whatever he’s driving, Jack is right–too much damned horsepower out there. This guy needs to leave his excitement at home, in the bottle with the rest of the blue pills where it belongs.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    What’s the problem? This guy would have no trouble getting a job driving a taxi in Boston.

  • avatar
    dartman

    Need a properly handling car for a big guy to learn on? 2006-2012 328i, manual transmission, preferably with sport pkg, everything else is fluff. More than enough power, will make you work for quick times, will work with anyone up to 6’5″/300lbs. Few cars including so called “sports cars” handle (and by handle I mean Go, Stop, Corner/Steer) as well for all around performance driving….

  • avatar
    jtk

    Seems like he could use a 5-point harness too… when I did a HPDE/school in a Boxster the harness held me in place regardless of what I was doing. This guy seems like he’s leaning all over the place in there. Kinda like the people I see going around the exit from the highway to my office. (note: the leaners are the slowest drivers… all the leaning must make them feel like they are going faster or something.)

  • avatar
    stottpie

    why would you buy a GT2 if you’re that inexperienced?

    i mean shit, at least get the GT3, it’s a lot more forgiving.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Jalopnik picked up this story today – 2/11/13 (without attribution as far as I can tell).

    http://jalopnik.com/this-is-how-not-to-drive-a-porsche-on-a-race-track-129701947

  • avatar
    replica

    I liked how he took the turns like playing Mario Kart. Tap, tap, tap, tap that D-pad to turn.


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